Sunday 25 September 2016

“This is a moment we’ve dreamed of as children and as big children” – John Muldoon

Published 27/05/2016 | 15:59

Connacht captain John Muldoon and head coach Pat Lam pose with the trophy ahead of the Guinness PRO12 Final between Leinster and Connacht at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Connacht captain John Muldoon and head coach Pat Lam pose with the trophy ahead of the Guinness PRO12 Final between Leinster and Connacht at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Connacht captain John Muldoon is relishing the opportunity of leading his side out in their first final at Murrayfield for tomorrow’s Guinness Pro12 show-piece.

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The long-serving No 8 has spent his entire career at his home province and has spoken of the dream of lifting the trophy at the end of their record-breaking season.

Pat Lam was able to name an unchanged team for the Edinburgh clash with his opposite number Leo Cullen forced into two alterations with Isa Nacewa and Devin Toner unavailable, meaning Rob Kearney and Ross Molony come into the four-time champions’ side.

Connacht have been the story of the season and the captain wants his team to finish the job.

“Everyone’s looking forward to it. We had a lovely send-off, a guard of honour at the airport yesterday. We’re looking forward to getting on the pitch,” Muldoon said at the pre-match press conference in Edinburgh.

“It’s our first time to be in this position. We’re full of excitement and anticipation. It’s a huge moment for the club, for every individual. It’s unchartered territory.

“It’s a moment that we’ve dreamed of as children… and as big children. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves. We want to enjoy it.”

Muldoon conceded that he has watched on with a sense of envy as the other provinces achieved success in the last decade.

“Of course I’ve been jealous, I’ve looked on with envy and I’m delighted to be part of everything. I’ve been through tough days, but they all go tomorrow.

“This is a great chance, a great opportunity. We have a chance to give it a go, we know what faces us but we’re confident. We know what’s gotten us here.”

Coach Lam is happy with preparations and believes his side are ready.

“I’m confident, I’m calm at the moment. We’ve had an extremely good week. It’s the first time we’ve had the same team twice in a row this season,” he said. “We’re ready to go.

“There is real belief, I’ve always said right from day one that anyone can stay in the huddle and say ‘I believe’, You shouldn’t need to if you’ve done the work.

“We’re in unchartered territory compared to Leinster, but the experience of beating Glasgow when we had to in the last game of the season, then again in the semi-final. The quarter-final against Grenoble, the game against Gloucester last year. From Grenoble, we’ve tidied up defence.

“That experience will hold us in good stead. We’re under no illusions the challenge, we respect what  Leinster have done. They’ve represented Ireland, set a really good benchmark. It’s different now we play them.

“We’re not happy just to be here, our goal is to win the trophy. There’s no point in being here otherwise.

“The preparation is done, that’s important and now we’ve to channel the emotion.”

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